Local boutiques offer fusion of fashion, fun

Just off campus on Marietta St. sit two unassuming boutiques that sell high fashion merchandise at discounted prices. Luxe Atlanta and 1*FIVE*0 Boutique are owned and operated by Lanny West and his wife Leslie Fram, Jenn Ripley and Carole Davenport. There is definitely more than meets the eye at these two year-old stores.

Both boutiques aim to provide high quality, in-vogue fashion to Atlanta’s citizenry at marked-down prices. Featuring such prominent names as Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, Luxe Atlanta is run by Jenn Ripley and has a wonderful collection of modern styles that will fit both today’s fashion and your budget. Ripley says that she is constantly “traveling to South America and abroad to get a jump on next season’s lines to be on the cutting edge of fashion here in Atlanta.“

You should trust Ripley’s fashion advice. Thrown into the bustling and cutthroat fashion industry at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, she found that a degree was not needed for greatness. Using the then newly-created sales platform, eBay, she took consigned merchandise from huge names in fashion and sold them on eBay for a massive profit.

This propelled her into an elite group of fashion dealers. She was featured at the young age of just 17 in a two-page spread in Vogue, the queen bee of fashion magazines, in a 1996 issue. In addition, she received raving reviews in TIME magazine for her unyielding entrepreneurial work ethic and “retail therapy“ in 2004.

The Luxe Atlanta store, however, is but half of the story of the marriage of these two rapidly expanding fashion empires. Owner Lanny West says that he designed 1*FIVE*0 Boutique to “be reminiscent of a 1930s Art Deco boutique with an Asian infusion of style and feel.“ The store’s fashion lineup is fit for any up-and-coming alternative rocker or trendy Atlanta resident. What’s even better is that everything in the store is under $150, hence the name.

Featuring lines from WeSC, Scotch & Soda, Diesel, To The Max, Trunk, True Religion and sponsors PF Flyers.

The store’s website, www.150atlanta.com, says “the boutique also aims to create a ‘lifestyle fusion’ for its shoppers, offering not only men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, but also an eclectic selection of music, books and home accessories. Vintage candies and ready to grind Octane coffee tempt the senses, as do live music performances and the offering of free wireless internet.“

1*FIVE*0 Boutique is also unique in Atlanta for its support of local up-and-coming artists and musicians.

Every month it sponsors a different musician/band as well as a local artist. In January the musician was Gary Pfaff and the art exhibit was by local graphic design artist Nathan Travel, age 19, who attends the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. These events, called “PPP Fusion“ parties, are always on the last Thursday of the month and benefit Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption. These are truly remarkable events that create an inviting, comfortable atmosphere in which to enjoy the night.

“From duct tape wallets and PF Flyer kicks to tasteful indie designer floral silk dresses and Andy Warhol printed notebooks, the eclectic taste of 1*FIVE*0 Boutique is as warm and as comforting as the local acoustic opening musician Justin Borgdon’s soulful vocals,“ commented a local Atlanta shopper.

The music on Jan. 31 was as varied as the merchandise in the store. Justin Borgdon, whose guitar strumming is similar to early John Mayer and whose vocals are parallel to a southern David Gray, performed a moving set before the main act. This sociable atmosphere also boded well for Sonia Leigh and Levi Lourey. Their music, resembling modern indie jam-packed with soul, is led by Sonia, who Levi the fiddle player describes as “a little 95 pound white girl with a black soulful gospel choir inside of her.“

Luxe Atlanta and 1*FIVE*0 Boutique have definitely carved out a little space on Marietta Street that is definitely worth seeing. The combination of the building’s exposed rough industrial interior architecture and the high fashion products create a pleasurable clash that is both aesthetically pleasing and a shopping rejuvenation.